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Arkansas Southern Ry. Co. v. Louisiana & A. Ry. Co., 218 U.S. 431 (1910)

Arkansas Southern Railway Company v.

Louisiana and Arkansas Railway Company

No. 38

Argued November 4, 1910

Decided November 28, 1910

218 U.S. 431


This Court must satisfy itself whether or not the party claiming the benefit of a contract which it claims was impaired by subsequent legislation had acquired rights under the original contract and therefore has jurisdiction.

This Court follows the state court in determining the extent of a special immunity from taxation granted by the constitution of the state. A subordinate body of the state, in the absence of the state distinctly limiting its control thereover, contracts subject, and not paramount, to the power of the state.

A state, by authorizing a municipality to levy taxes in the future on taxable property within its jurisdiction, does not thereby limit its own power to determine what property shall be taxable when the levy shall be made.

Page 218 U. S. 432

Even if the vote by a parish acting under a state statute in Louisiana to aid a railroad company by an annual tax constituted a contract and the company became entitled to its benefit, a provision in a subsequently enacted constitution exempting certain property then taxable from all taxation does not impair the obligation of the original contract, and the special tax cannot be imposed on the property so exempted.

121 La. 997 affirmed.

The facts, which involve the validity of certain taxation on property claimed to be exempt under provisions of the constitution of the State of Louisiana, are stated in the opinion.

Page 218 U. S. 435

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